Ron Cook: No shortage of motivation for Big Ben



The significance of his 367-yard, four-touchdown passing day in the Steelers' 37-27 win against the Detroit Lions Sunday was not lost on Ben Roethlisberger.

"Maybe I made myself more tradeable," he said.

Easy.

Roethlisberger was kidding.

After a week of hazy allegations against him and strong denials from him, Roethlisberger found sanctuary on the Heinz Field lawn. It has always been that way for him. He's always most comfortable on a football field.

"I really wasn't worried about being a distraction," Roethlisberger said of the NFL Network speculation that he's unhappy with the Steelers offense and could seek a trade after the season.

"Someone asked me during the week if I felt the need to say something to my teammates. I really didn't. I didn't think it was worth talking about. They know how I feel about them and this team. They know I don't want to go anywhere. A lot of guys came up to me and said, 'Ben, don't worry about it. It's ridiculous. Just play your game.' "

So Roethlisberger did.

"7 was 7," wide receiver Antonio Brown said.

Roethlisberger threw two long catch-and-run touchdown passes to Brown on the Steelers' first two possessions for a 14-0 lead, completing seven of his first eight passes for 121 yards. He had to be that good in a steady rain because the Detroit offense had a spectacular second quarter with 27 points to take a 27-20 lead into halftime. The Lions held a 27-23 lead into the fourth quarter. That's when Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to fullback Will Johnson and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, leading the Steelers to a late win from a deficit or a tied score for the 32nd time in his Hall of Fame-caliber career.

"During the week, I try to do my best to prepare myself for that situation," Roethlisberger said.

That was Roethlisberger having a little mischievous fun again. An NFL.com report Thursday said there were concerns within the Steelers organization that he didn't work hard enough on his game away from team headquarters.

"I guess it would have hurt me more if they said I wasn't working hard enough at the facility," Roethlisberger said. "But they praised me for being a better leader and a better teammate. How do they know what I do at home? Do they have cameras in my house?"

Roethlisberger hosted a birthday party Saturday for his son, Benjamin Jr., who turns 1 on Thursday.

Shame on him.

He might have thrown for 500 yards if he had spent the day watching tape of the Lions defense.

Now I'm kidding.

Roethlisberger was plenty prepared to run the team's no-huddle offense, which he did for much of the game. He called the 20-yard touchdown pass to Cotchery at the line of scrimmage, a score that gave the Steelers their 37-27 lead. He faked a quick screen left to receiver Markus Wheaton, then lobbed the ball down the left sideline to a wide-open Cotchery, who snuck behind the defense.

"It's more than just me," Roethlisberger said. "There are 10 other guys on the field."

The Steelers needed all of 'em after taking over at their 3 with 12:49 left after the Lions foolishly tried a fake field goal and failed instead of kicking and taking a 30-23 lead. It took 16 plays and 8:03 of clock, but Roethlisberger led them 97 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, a 1-yard pass to Johnson.

" 'Let's give it a shot. Let's get one first down and see what happens from there,' " Roethlisberger said of his message in the huddle.

That initial first down came on a third-and-9 play from the 4 when Roethlisberger and Brown combined for a clutch 16-yard gain.

"I wanted them to see it in my eyes and hear it in my voice -- there's no panic from me," Roethlisberger said. " 'Let's rock and roll!' "

So the Steelers did.

By the time it was over, Roethlisberger had completed 29 of 45 passes for 367 yards and the four touchdowns with no turnovers. His passer rating was 119.4, the 53rd time in the regular season that he has topped 100. The Steelers are 49-4 in those games.

The NFL Network reports said Roethlisberger isn't thrilled with offensive coordinator Todd Haley's offense, but you wouldn't know it by his numbers. His 2,901 passing yards and 247 completions are the most through 10 games by a Steelers quarterback going back to 1960.

Certainly, Roethlisberger was happy Sunday. The Steelers won a second consecutive game and are 4-6 heading into AFC North Division games the next two weeks at Cleveland and Baltimore.

And those allegations?

"You have to let them roll off your back," Roethlisberger said.

Or maybe not.

"I was really determined to do it today," he said.

It showed.


Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

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